Pickups: the true workers of the automotive world. Built to do a job, and do it well, the pickup segment is rife with hardworking, well built specimens that all shine in their own right. Of course, the name that comes to mind first and foremost the moment “pickup” is mentioned is F-150. And why shouldn’t it? It’s been the best-selling truck for 50 years now. “Built Ford Tough” isn’t just a slogan, it’s a reality, and so the rest of the industry nips at its heels trying desperately to catch up and take that top spot.
Well, we found a worthy contender in the latest iteration of Chevy’s answer to the Blue Oval’s F-150: the 2015 Silverado 1500. Well stocked to take on the likes of the F-150, the Silverado offers up similar performance and working numbers, but can it best the No.1? We set out to find out.
Silverado vs. F-150 specs and capabilities
Our Chevy Silverado 1500 was an LT model equipped with a ZL1 off-road package as well as a 2LT equipment package, a Crew Cab and a standard box, along with the EcoTec3 5.3L V8 and a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Power output for the Chevy Silverado is 355 horses (385 with E85 fuel), and 383 lb-ft of torque (416 lb-ft with E85). As it is a FlexFuel engine, the Silverado 1500 can take either regular unleaded gasoline or E85 fuel.
Said ZL1 off-road kit includes monotube shocks in the front and rear, and 18” wheels with power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes with Duralife rotors. Of course, our Silverado also featured a 4x4 system and a short box with a max payload of 1,850lbs.
With all that the Silverado tipped the base curb vehicle weight rating scale at 5,216 lbs and the pricing scale at just over $50k.
On the other hand, the 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Lariat with a standard box featured a 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 mill that produced roughly the same numbers as the Silverado (minus the E85 jump in performance option) with 385 horsepower and 387 lb-ft of torque. The F-150 utilizes a 6-speed automatic transmission and also features an aluminum engine block and cylinder head material (as well as body panels, but we’ll get to that in a moment).
The Ford F-150 relied on independent double-wishbone front suspension with coil-over shock and stamped lower control arms, and a leaf spring with a solid axle rear setup.
With all of the above equipment and capability, the 2015 Ford F-150 tipped the base curb weight rating scales at just 4,870lbs thanks in no small part to its aluminum bits and pieces.
Both trucks will tow roughly 9,000 lbs give or take a few hundred pounds.
The look of a worker
These workhorses have the manly, rough-and-tough exterior demeanor truck owners want and look for, there’s no denying that. However, the newly designed exterior of the Ford F-150 brings it slightly ahead of the Silverado, if only for its more modern “flair.”
That being said, the overall design of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is largely appealing. Boxy and crowned with a massive, dominating front grille, the Silverado makes a serious statement on (and off) the road. Squared wheel arches that puff out with muscular presence -- this truck looks tough.
Turn to the Ford F-150 and the toughness is there, but in a more refined way. The three-bar chromed grille is intimidating, but it’s just not as commandeering as the Silverado’s; it seems almost subdued when parked next to the big GM brute. Stylized headlights and taillights give the Ford F-150 more mass appeal than the Silverado.
Inside, that mass appeal continues in the F-150 when compared to the Silverado. Whereas the Chevy product is all truck (big, open, easy-to-clean surfaces, large knobs for work-glove manipulation, column-mounted shifter, etc.), the Ford is more refined and car-like in its design and set-up.
Pickup performance, please
Here’s where it really got down to the nitty-gritty with the 2015 Ford F-150 and 2015 Chevrolet Silverado: the drive.
Each offered such similar performance and capacity numbers that we were sure they would be almost too similar to truly find a “winner,” that we’d just end up picking whichever was our personal favourite. However, the moment we drove them back-to-back the differences were rather glaring.
I spent the most time with the Silverado as it was my pickup for the week, and was impressed with its engine and throttle response despite its large road demeanor and heavy steering. However, the moment I went directly from the Silverado to the F-150 my opinion changed completely, and Matt agreed immediately.
The 2015 Ford F-150 is light, nimble, and quick compared to the Silverado 1500. Throttle response is almost shockingly fast versus the slow, laborious feel of the Silverado’s go-pedal. Each featured a 6-speed transmission, but Ford’s is so much livelier, so much more car-like.
And that’s not a bad thing here. I played the devil’s advocate and questioned why someone who bought a pickup would want it to act like a car and not like a truck in the first place, and Matt reminded me of each vehicle’s curb weight and what that meant for capability numbers and fuel consumption.
See, the Silverado is nearly 600lbs heavier than the F-150, despite offering up nearly the same power numbers along with 4WD, a similar cab size and box. How is it so much heavier? It doesn’t feature Ford’s brand new aluminum body paneling, which saves on weight immensely and makes a HUGE different in performance numbers.
More than anything it means the F-150’s engine is working much less when carrying weight than the Silverado’s. Already, the Chevy’s 5.3L is working with the weight of the vehicle. Add a bunch of crap to the bed and slap a trailer back there, and the performance is going to drop once again.
The real winner in all of this is Ford’s latest aluminum design. Of course, it has its downsides such as the cost of repair and necessary materials if and when your truck gets damaged, but the result of outfitting the truck with said materials is astonishing in terms of performance and capabilities.
The king reigns supreme
The pickup game is a big one, with so many options, specifications, and tailored packages that no two pickups are exactly the same. However, despite all that, the 2015 Ford F-150 continues to hold the crown in the pickup kingdom, and rightfully so especially after its recent update.